Zion: I never said it would be perfect; I only said it would be worth it.

Discerning readers (Dick and my mother-in-law) have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. No, I’m not excessively busy with exciting things or even with mundane child-rearing inanities. We’ve taken an executive decision to delay Susan’s potty-training until it is our own floor coverings, not to mention walls, furniture, etc, that will potentially suffer from the process. I like how the British say they are taking a decision rather than making one — sounds more active, as if free will were playing a bigger part or something.

Perhaps I have not been quite so lazy as I thought with the reading trashy novels like it’s Fat Tuesday and we’re burning books for Lent. After all, it’s made me ponder the philological difference between make and take in books with profound titles such as The Millionaire’s Mistress and Accidental Baby.

Dick comes home from work (after being gone from 4am to 7pm four days a week) saying things like “I’ll probably be working on Dugway for about five years” or “Our contract was almost cancelled today because the engineers blah blah blah.” So good job security, here. We’ve gotten four offers for our house in Florida but they’ve all fallen through or were for millions less than we owe (ok, possibly the difference is less than millions, but in my world, it almost might as well be). Basically we’re still on our way to Australia, but enjoying the fresh Utah air in the meantime. (and missing the beach and family and friends in Florida).

Here’s the good, the bad, and the just plain strange of the past month in Zion:

Good

Staying at sister Marcy’s house. Susan was entertaining herself by making the recliner rock with her feet and told Marcy, “It’s fun at Marcy’s house.” It’s really convenient for the kid-swapping and homemakingness-sharing. Here you can see the powerful effect of peer pressure on homework-doing:

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Fresh, cool air. Marcy and I have been walking the girls to school in the mornings. It’s almost a mile each way, and downhillish on the way there. Marcy’s house is on the west side of the mountain (west is best for vegetation; maybe it’s the lee of the mountain or something?). I love the mountains. I tried to persuade Susan to wear a sweater to the park on a chilly evening (in September!), and she cried, “I don’t want to go camping!” Spot’s having a hard time adjusting to the cool grass, as you can see here:

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Dough enhancer! Vital Wheat Gluten! White Wheat Flour! You can see the fruits of my labor here along with some yummy recipes. Don’t worry, we’re not doping our bread with testosterone or anything. You’ll (Liz and Grandpa) be happy to know that dough enhancer doesn’t even contain MSG; it’s whey and, oh no, now that I read the label more closely, there is soy lecithin. Please do not inform me of how bad that is. The bread it makes is awesome!!

Sally read a 126-page Dickmy Little book in one sitting. The elementary school Sally goes to is, as I wrote earlier, a nirvana of early childhood education. Dick and I took the four oldest girls (Sally, Susan, Livvy and Ali) to the school carnival, and glutted ourselves on cotton candy:

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Bad

First I had toe crack, and then I got thumb crack, and now I have toe crack on my knuckles. Bought a humidifier from my favorite store and we’ll see if that helps. Might even break down and wear gloves while washing dishes.

My kids can be pretty annoying sometimes. And this is really, really apparent in a staying-with-relatives-for-an-extended-period-of-time situation. And I can’t beat ’em like usual because they’ve got the security cameras all over. Also, it is ever true that the best way to appreciate your own children is to spend time with someone else’s kids.

Strange

FM 100 plays “Soft Sunday Sounds.” Just what you wanted: all-church-music-all-day-long. And this isn’t just “gospel” or “Christian” music, but actual Mormon stuff.

Ali (3) running around saying, “I don’t like Rapunzel” fifteen times. Susan, after giving Ali a hug, saying, “Ali doesn’t like my boogers.”

We have several different mantras for the kids, especially for Susan the middle child. One is, “We don’t color on books, we color on paper.” Another is, “We don’t poop in the diaper, we poop in the potty.” Susan came up with her own one day while I was changing yet another diaper: “We don’t eat poop, we eat food.” Smart kid, huh?

Sally thinks she is a mermaid:

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Susan thinks she is an astronaut:

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When Dick and I opened a bank account at Zions Bank, the nice bank lady, after hearing us debating whether to get BYU checks or not, printed out an email joke that’s been circulating. (Her husband has worked at BYU for 30 years). It goes like this: A man is visiting churches around the world and at each one there’s a gold phone with a sign that says it’s $10,000 per phone call. Then he gets to Utah and sees that the sign says Phone Call: 35 cents. He asks the bishop (pastor) about it, and is told, “You’re in Zion now; it’s a local call.”

Now, I am religio-centric devout enough to appreciate the in-ness of the joke, but it was a little odd to get this joke from a bank lady who had not asked if we were Mormon and not disclosed that she was Mormon. In fact, the joke doesn’t explicitly say that the Utah church with the phone is a Mormon church, but it’s all context. And this is the context I want for my kids, though I do want them to be aware and respectful and interested in other contexts.

Vanity and vexation of spirit. So, I decided that I should probably dye my hair a more conservative color. Dick said he’d like my hair more brown than red, and of course I make those kinds of decisions with one objective in mind: to please my husband. Seriously, though, it was supposed to be a beautiful raven black. I think purple is better than green, at least.

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Happy Birthday (belated) to Tom, and one more reason I love him.

Incredibly, all is not roses-blooming-beneath-our-feet, all-the-time here in Zion. Last night, Grandpa Dick thumped Sally on the head after she, in her cheetah-spotted footy pajamas, bit him on the leg. She was promptly put in time-out, and apologizes and (silent) recriminations flew. She deserved the thumping: almost-7 is old enough to not bite, and swatting in hurt/surprise at something that attacks one’s leg is a natural enough reaction.

And then I saw, again and again, the surprised look on her face. Unfortunately, Sally is used to that sort of treatment from me. I’m still working off guilt from the time I whacked her with a hair brush when she would not sit still now to get her hair done a couple years ago. She is not used to it from a wonderfully indulgent and usually-playful grandpa.

So here’s to marrying up. I listed a few of the reasons that I love Dick for our anniversary in June. Here’s one more. His first, unguarded reaction (unlike mine) is a question or a gentle reproof or a pretty long-suffering patience (though I do know how to get to the end of that patience, if I do say so myself). Dingity-dangity, I love you!

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Dick requested a Rocky Road Ice Cream Cake (Marcy-style), and got chocolate cake (from a box) with awesome toppings: Rocky Road Ice Cream, pecans, marshmallows and coconut.